It's the Bunny time of year, and I wanted to suggest a few ways to make Easter eco-friendly by reducing waste in your Easter baskets and to offer some alternatives to sugary candy and stuffed rabbits.
First, the basket; make it something reusable, something that the kids can play with, or something that can be used for storage long after the holiday is over.
Stubby Pencil has some super cute, handmade, felt Easter baskets ($13.95). Not only are they bright and springy, but ours looks really nice on the playroom shelf.
Another option is the Bolga Basket from A Toy Garden. These fair trade, handmade baskets are available in small ($15.95), medium ($29.95) and large ($35.95). The girls tote their pretend groceries and store play vegetables in the small ones they received last year. I've been thinking about getting a large one to hold all the dolls and stuffed animals that I'm always picking up.
A fun option is a child-sized laundry basket ($7.50). If you add a clothes pin set ($7.99) and some spring-colored play silks, you've got hours of inexpensive playtime. Arielle still loves playing laundry.
Themed Easter baskets don't even have to be baskets; try a pail or tote with child-size gardening tools ($17.95) or a bucket of sand toys ($19.99).
A reusable bag can also be used as either an alternative to a basket or as a gift inside a basket. Envirosax for Kids have cheerful, child-friendly designs and are great for hauling stuff to preschool or daycare. There's even a bunny design. Ours are holding Arielle's mountain of library books.
Art supplies, of course, are wonderful gift for any occasion: eco-friendly water colors, colored pencils, or markers are always fun. Choose one and add the appropriate accessories: a cute pencil sharpener and sketch book, recycled coloring cards, or paint brushes and water color paper. This year, I'll be including Beeswax Crayons (12 for $14.95) in our baskets.
This set of animal stamps (5 for $19.95) could be split among several children. It is made in Thailand of rubberwood. Make sure to use washable ink as Arielle and Linnea tend to get ink all over and these animals are just to cute to be all inky.
As for treats, a sweet alternative to traditional candy is a Yummy Earth organic fruit lollipop (15 for $3.50 or 20 cents each). I actually used these during potty training as a bribe to keep Arielle on the potty while potty training **blush**. They are delicious and all natural, so I didn't feel too bad about it. Instead of chemical dyes, they are colored with organic ingredients such as such as red cabbage, orange pumpkins, turmeric and purple carrots. The lollipops are casein, dairy, egg, gluten, nut, soy and wheat-free. There are no refined sugars or corn syrup, instead the sweetness comes from organic evaporated cane juice and organic tapioca syrup. I am particularly partial to pomegranate. Homemade treats are another option.
Stuffed bunnies are cute, but there is a limit. You just can't have a stuffed bunny every Easter - they reproduce faster than real bunnies! They become Dust Bunnies! Instead of stuffed bunnies, try a play set or a puppet that can be played with for several years. I've written a lot about Arielle and her puppet love. I encourage it because puppets are a wonderful, open-ended toy that she can play with until her teen years. She has a lot, but more characters means more stories. They can only inspire imagination and creativity. I especially like Folkmanis puppets (yes, they are Made in China, but there is really nothing comparable), which I buy at Puppet-World. Puppet-World ships quickly, and they have a great selection and awesome customer service. Arielle loves birds, especially cockatoos, and I was so excited to see that Folkmanis came out with a cockatoo puppet ($23.95) this year. Guess what Arielle's getting... There's also a cute little chick ($4.25) that is perfect for a more traditional-looking basket.
So... my list: a puppet, some crayons, a sketch book and a few organic lollipops in a reusable basket - not crazy expensive, everything will be used again and again (except the lollipops), and no waste. I guess the main thing is rather than filling up with easy to find Easter themed junk, think about your child's interests. A child who received a play kitchen for Christmas might appreciate a basket of play veggies, a child who enjoys animals, might like a few new Holztiger animals with a play silk to line the basket, a toddler would be happy with homemade play dough, Easter-themed cookie cutters and a rolling pin.